Meet Fatmata.

Fatmata’s brother couldn’t see the point of sending her to school. He thought she’d simply get married and all the benefits of an education would go to another family. So while she lived with him, Fatmata stayed home doing chores.

But things changed drastically when their mother came to visit. “My daughter will not sit here without going to school!” she declared.

So she took Fatmata back to her village – and back to school. That was in 2011 when Fatmata was 11 years old, and for the next few years she did brilliantly.

But in 2014 tragedy struck. Ebola swept through their community, infecting dozens including Fatmata and her mother. Miraculously Fatmata survived – but her mother did not. Fatmata was devastated, life as she knew it would change forever. And again she found herself out of school. Without her mother’s support 14 year old Fatmata knew she was fated to follow her three sisters into marriage – which was the last thing she wanted.

But futures can be changed. People in Fatmata’s community knew she’d been a brilliant student, so they didn’t hesitate to recommend her for a One Girl scholarship, which she was thrilled to receive. Now she is just one year away from graduating.

Ebola wreaked havoc on Sierra Leone and many of our newer scholars were directly affected by the outbreak. Many have been orphaned as a result of Ebola, and saw the disastrous effects of it on their communities and country.

Fatmata still misses her mother terribly, but being in school gives her strength. She knows that her education will set her up to deal with the challenges life might throw her way.